Association of American Universities

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Association of American Universities
Association of American Universities seal.png
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
PresidentHunter R. Rawlings III
 United States
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Association of American Universities
Association of American Universities seal.png
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
PresidentHunter R. Rawlings III
 United States

The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an international organization of leading research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education. It consists of 60 universities in the United States (both public and private) and two universities in Canada.


The AAU was founded in 1900 by a group of fourteen Ph.D.-granting universities in the United States to strengthen and standardize American doctoral programs. Today, the primary purpose of the organization is to provide a forum for the development and implementation of institutional and national policies, in order to promote strong programs in academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.


The largest attraction of the AAU for many schools, especially nonmembers, is prestige. For example, in 2010 the chancellor of nonmember North Carolina State University described it as "the pre-eminent research-intensive membership group. To be a part of that organization is something N.C. State aspires to."[1] A spokesman for nonmember University of Connecticut called it "perhaps the most elite organization in higher education. You'd probably be hard-pressed to find a major research university that didn't want to be a member of the AAU."[2] In 2012, the new elected chancellor of University of Massachusetts Amherst, a nonmember of AAU, reaffirmed the framework goal of elevating the campus to AAU standards which inspire them to become a member in the near future, and called it a distinctive status.[3] Because of the lengthy and difficult entrance process, boards of trustees, state legislators, and donors often see membership as evidence of the quality of a university.[1]

The AAU acts as a lobbyist at its headquarters in the city of Washington, D.C. for research and higher education funding and on policy and regulatory issues affecting research universities. The association holds two meetings annually, both in Washington. Separate meetings are held for university presidents, provosts, and other officials. Because the meetings are private they offer the opportunity for discussion without media coverage. Prominent government officials, businessmen, and others often speak to the groups.[1]


Thomas A. Bartlett1977–1982
Robert M. Rosenzweig1983–1993
Cornelius J. Pings1993–1998
Nils HasselmoJuly 1, 1998 – April 2006
Robert M. BerdahlMay 2006 – June 2011
Hunter R. Rawlings IIIJuly 1, 2011 – present


As of 2004, AAU members accounted for 58 percent[4] of U.S. universities' research grants and contract income and 52 percent of all doctorates awarded in the United States. Since 1999, 43 percent of all Nobel Prize winners and 74 percent of winners at U.S. institutions have been affiliated with an AAU university. Approximately two-thirds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2006 Class of Fellows are affiliated with an AAU university. The faculties at AAU universities include 2,993 members of the United States National Academies (82 percent of all members): the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine (2004).[5]


AAU membership is by invitation only, which requires an affirmative vote of three-fourths of current members. Invitations are considered periodically, based in part on an assessment of the breadth and quality of university programs of research and graduate education, as well as undergraduate education. The association ranks its members using four criteria: research spending, the percentage of faculty who are members of the National Academies, faculty awards, and citations. Two thirds of members can vote to revoke membership for poor rankings.[6][7] As of 2010 annual dues are $80,500.[1]

Institution[8]State or ProvinceOwnershipEstablishedYear joinedTotal students
University of ArizonaArizonaPublic1885198540,223
University at BuffaloNew YorkPublic1846198929,850
University of California, BerkeleyCaliforniaPublic1868190036,204
University of California, DavisCaliforniaPublic1905199634,175
University of California, IrvineCaliforniaPublic1965199629,588
University of California, Los AngelesCaliforniaPublic1882197442,163
University of California, San DiegoCaliforniaPublic1960198230,310
University of California, Santa BarbaraCaliforniaPublic1944199522,225
University of Colorado BoulderColoradoPublic1876196631,702
University of FloridaFloridaPublic1853198549,042
Georgia Institute of TechnologyGeorgiaPublic1885201021,471
University of Illinois at Urbana–ChampaignIllinoisPublic1867190844,520
Indiana University BloomingtonIndianaPublic1820190942,731
University of IowaIowaPublic1847190931,065
Iowa State UniversityIowaPublic1858195834,732
University of KansasKansasPublic1865190927,983
University of Maryland, College ParkMarylandPublic1856196937,631
University of MichiganMichiganPublic1817190043,426
Michigan State UniversityMichiganPublic1855196449,300
University of MinnesotaMinnesotaPublic1851190851,853
University of MissouriMissouriPublic1839190835,441
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillNorth CarolinaPublic1789192229,390
Ohio State UniversityOhioPublic1870191657,466
University of OregonOregonPublic1876196920,829
Pennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaPublic1855195898,097
University of PittsburghPennsylvaniaPublic1787197428,649
Purdue UniversityIndianaPublic1869195839,256
Rutgers UniversityNew JerseyPublic1766198965,000
Stony Brook UniversityNew YorkPublic1957200124,594
University of Texas at AustinTexasPublic1883192951,000
Texas A&M UniversityTexasPublic1876200162,185
University of VirginiaVirginiaPublic1819190421,000
University of WashingtonWashingtonPublic1861195043,762
University of Wisconsin–MadisonWisconsinPublic1848190043,275
Boston UniversityMassachusettsPrivate1839201230,009
Brandeis UniversityMassachusettsPrivate194819855,808
Brown UniversityRhode IslandPrivate176419338,619
California Institute of TechnologyCaliforniaPrivate189119342,231
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPennsylvaniaPrivate1900198212,908
Case Western Reserve UniversityOhioPrivate1826196910,325
University of ChicagoIllinoisPrivate1890190014,954
Columbia UniversityNew YorkPrivate1754190029,250
Cornell UniversityNew YorkPrivate1865190020,939
Duke UniversityNorth CarolinaPrivate1838193814,600
Emory UniversityGeorgiaPrivate1836199514,513
Harvard UniversityMassachusettsPrivate1636190021,000
Johns Hopkins UniversityMarylandPrivate1876190020,871
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusettsPrivate1865193411,301
New York UniversityNew YorkPrivate1831195053,711
Princeton UniversityNew JerseyPrivate174619008,010
Northwestern UniversityIllinoisPrivate1851191719,218
University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaPrivate1740190024,630
Rice UniversityTexasPrivate191219856,487
University of RochesterNew YorkPrivate1850194110,290
University of Southern CaliforniaCaliforniaPrivate1880196939,958
Stanford UniversityCaliforniaPrivate1891190015,877
Tulane UniversityLouisianaPrivate1834195813,462
Vanderbilt UniversityTennesseePrivate1873195012,795
Washington University in St. LouisMissouriPrivate1853192314,117
Yale UniversityConnecticutPrivate1701190012,223
McGill UniversityQuebecPublic1821192636,904
University of TorontoOntarioPublic1827192647,259


Former members[edit]

Departed as a result of "institutional emphases and energies" that differed from the other AAU members.[9]
Departed because of a shift in the AAU's emphasis to large research universities.[10]
Removed from the AAU.[7] Chancellor Harvey Perlman claimed that the lack of an on-campus medical school (the Medical Center is a separate campus of the University of Nebraska system) and the AAU's disregarding of USDA-funded agricultural research in its metrics hurt the university's performance in the association's internal ranking system.[6] In 2010 Perlman stated that had Nebraska not been part of the AAU, the Big Ten would likely not have invited it to become the athletic conference's 12th member,[2] although a lack of support for Nebraska's AAU membership by some Big Ten members "call into question the pretext on which Nebraska was invited to join [the Big Ten]."[11]
Because of a dispute over how to count non-Federal grants, Syracuse voluntarily withdrew from the AAU in 2011. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that after " became clear that Syracuse wouldn't meet the association's revised membership criteria, university officials decided that they would leave the organization voluntarily, rather than face a vote like Nebraska's, and notified the leadership of their intentions."[12]


The AAU supported the Research and Development Efficiency Act (H.R. 5056; 113th Congress) arguing that the legislation "can lead to a long-needed reduction in the regulatory burden currently imposed on universities and their faculty members who conduct research on behalf of the federal government."[13] According to the AAU, "too often federal requirements" for accounting for federal grant money "are ill-conceived, ineffective, and/or duplicative."[13] This wastes the researchers' times and "reduces the time they can devote to discovery and innovation and increases institutional compliance costs."[13]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Fain, Paul (2010-04-21). "As AAU Admits Georgia Tech to Its Exclusive Club, Other Universities Await the Call". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Hine, Chris (2010-06-13). "Nebraska has it all to attract Big Ten, most importantly AAU membership". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  3. ^ UMass Amherst: Kumble R. Subbaswamy - Feature Story. (2012-05-13). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  4. ^ Over $15.9 billion: NIH: $9.1 billion, 60 percent of total academic research funding. Research Funding: National Science Foundation: $2.0 billion, 63 percent of total academic research funding Department of Defense: $1.2 billion, 56 percent of total academic research funding Department of Energy: $505.2 million, 63 percent of total academic research funding NASA: $673.2 million, 57 percent of total academic research funding Department of Agriculture: $271.9 million, 41 percent of total academic research funding
  5. ^ AAU Facts and Figures. Accessed August 24, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Abourezk, Kevin (2011-04-29). "Research universities group ends UNL's membership". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Selingo, Jeffrey J. (2011-04-29). "U. of Nebraska-Lincoln Is Voted Out of Assn. of American Universities". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Member Institutions and Years of Admission". Association of American Universities. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  9. ^ O'Connell, The Most Rev. David M. (2002). "From the President's Desk". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved August 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ Peter Schmidt, "Clark U. Leaves Association of American Universities; Others May Follow" (September 10, 1999). Chronicle of Higher Education.
  11. ^ Smith, Mitch; Abourezk, Kevin (September 3, 2011). "Emails: Wisconsin and Michigan opposed Nebraska's AAU membership". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  12. ^ Selingo, Jeffrey J. (2011-05-02). "Facing an Ouster From an Elite Group of Universities, Syracuse U. Says It Will Withdraw". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 3, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c "AAU Statement on the Research and Development Efficiency Act". Association of American Universities. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 

External links[edit]